How defensive can you be in your personal statement about your past results? Watch

thisistheend
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I'm applying for an MA and the course page says "1st or high 2.1". I got a low 2.1 in the subject for BA. However, I've also done a PGCE, the teaching qualification, technically you do 60 Masters level credits, but none of my academic work was "masters level standard" ie <50. But I was still able to complete the PGCE course and become a teacher because I pass my practical and got 40+ in essays.

I'm worried that if I mention nothing about the fact that I didn't achieve a masters level standard work in my PGCE, i'll look like i'm glossing over it. If I say, well I didn't want or even need Masters level work to pass the course, it makes me look lazy. Especially because my BA module results were inconsistent (range from 2.2 to 1sts) and I coasted in my 3rd year because I thought a 2.1 was a 2.1 was a 2.1. If I do mention this, how to make it sound not overly defensive? Btw, my BA and proposed MA has nothing to do with Education at all.

Obviously, I don't intend to coast on the MA, cos you know, I want to do it badly enough that I'm willing to pay for the privilege and not use the time to further a career.
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The_Lonely_Goatherd
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I graduated with a 2.2 and then got a Merit at Masters. I have never tried to defend my low results in my personal statements - I have left that to my referees to do for me :dontknow:
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Klix88
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(Original post by thisistheend)
If I do mention this, how to make it sound not overly defensive?
Difficult, because on paper that low 2:1 means that you don't meet the basic application criteria and I can't see that low-ish marks in an unrelated PGCE will really compensate.

I think I'd take a different approach and email the MA course leader in advance. Tell them how enthusiastic you are and how that MA - and no other - is specifically the one you want to do, and why (a kind of mini application). Then break the news that you have a low 2:1 BUT emphasise that you also have a PGCE (no need to mention the marks in that). Ask them whether it's still worth applying.

If you oil the wheels well enough in advance and present yourself as an ideal candidate, then they might get as far as considering your application. However without that groundwork you don't meet the entry criteria and you run the risk of your application being binned at the start of the process.

You also need to consider the type of uni you're aiming at. Somewhere in the higher reaches like UCL will use the stated undergrad results as a first filter, simply because they get so many applicants who meet or exceed the criteria. If you don't succeed this time, it might be worth shopping around for somewhere which just needs a 2:1 and doesn't specify the level.

I'll add that I know two people who've gone on to do a Masters with a 2:2. They enrolled to begin with on a PGDip (the taught elements without the dissertation) and were allowed to proceed to the dissertation when their coursework marks were good enough. Both have now graduated with a full Masters. So don't think there's no hope - the opportunities are out there if you look for them and a 2:1 of any type will be acceptable for many unis
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redferry
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Liverpool uni ask for a 2:2 at masters
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thisistheend
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(Original post by Klix88)
Difficult, because on paper that low 2:1 means that you don't meet the basic application criteria and I can't see that low-ish marks in an unrelated PGCE will really compensate.

I think I'd take a different approach and email the MA course leader in advance. Tell them how enthusiastic you are and how that MA - and no other - is specifically the one you want to do, and why (a kind of mini application). Then break the news that you have a low 2:1 BUT emphasise that you also have a PGCE (no need to mention the marks in that). Ask them whether it's still worth applying.

If you oil the wheels well enough in advance and present yourself as an ideal candidate, then they might get as far as considering your application. However without that groundwork you don't meet the entry criteria and you run the risk of your application being binned at the start of the process.

You also need to consider the type of uni you're aiming at. Somewhere in the higher reaches like UCL will use the stated undergrad results as a first filter, simply because they get so many applicants who meet or exceed the criteria. If you don't succeed this time, it might be worth shopping around for somewhere which just needs a 2:1 and doesn't specify the level.

I'll add that I know two people who've gone on to do a Masters with a 2:2. They enrolled to begin with on a PGDip (the taught elements without the dissertation) and were allowed to proceed to the dissertation when their coursework marks were good enough. Both have now graduated with a full Masters. So don't think there's no hope - the opportunities are out there if you look for them and a 2:1 of any type will be acceptable for many unis
Well thanks for the advice, it will certainly be useful should I apply to any further universities.

It's not going to apply perfectly to this application because it's to the same university I did my BA & PGCE at (Given that I can't go to Oxbridge and London is too expensive, it will be as good a choice as any given that I need to be in a city to find enough work in schools to support myself). So obviously, they could just look up my transcript on the database. Even funnier, the admissions officer for the MA is my personal tutor at BA. Technically, he's writing a reference to himself. I did meet him a few weeks ago, obviously I wasn't crass enough to say "hey sir, *wink* *wink* so can I come back in Sept" and he was professional enough to not say anything either way in an informal meeting. He said to "apply at a few unis" and "you'll have to make a case here"
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Baron of Sealand
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If I don't meet their requirements, then I will try to explain it away - but in the sense that I would point to the fact that I have improved in my grades in the recent term (if applicable). Or that I'm thankful I'm now able to understand my strengths and weaknesses, if the modules with the higher grades are the relevant programmes.

If not, I will just avoid mentioning it and point to my other merits.
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thisistheend
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(Original post by redferry)
Liverpool uni ask for a 2:2 at masters
Yes, but then I'd have to live in Liverpool...
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Klix88
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(Original post by thisistheend)
Well thanks for the advice, it will certainly be useful should I apply to any further universities.

It's not going to apply perfectly to this application because it's to the same university I did my BA & PGCE at (Given that I can't go to Oxbridge and London is too expensive, it will be as good a choice as any given that I need to be in a city to find enough work in schools to support myself). So obviously, they could just look up my transcript on the database. Even funnier, the admissions officer for the MA is my personal tutor at BA. Technically, he's writing a reference to himself. I did meet him a few weeks ago, obviously I wasn't crass enough to say "hey sir, *wink* *wink* so can I come back in Sept" and he was professional enough to not say anything either way in an informal meeting. He said to "apply at a few unis" and "you'll have to make a case here"
Must admit that I'm now not quite sure what you're asking. If the uni is automatically going to know about your grades, at least one reference is in the bag and you're being effectively told that it's a good idea to apply, I don't know how we can help further. All of those factors are really as good as you could ever hope for in advance of a Masters application. You certainly won't get anything like that from a uni where you aren't known.

Is it the "you'll have to make a case here" which is giving you a problem?
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Pariah
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What do think that this MA is going to do for you? Given your fairly average academic grades so far it seems unlikely that you will suddenly raise your game - why not save the time and money and progress your career as a teacher?
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redferry
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(Original post by thisistheend)
Yes, but then I'd have to live in Liverpool...
Him well clearly don't want a masters much then. Liverpool is a fine city and good University...
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thisistheend
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(Original post by Klix88)
Must admit that I'm now not quite sure what you're asking. If the uni is automatically going to know about your grades, at least one reference is in the bag and you're being effectively told that it's a good idea to apply, I don't know how we can help further. All of those factors are really as good as you could ever hope for in advance of a Masters application. You certainly won't get anything like that from a uni where you aren't known.

Is it the "you'll have to make a case here" which is giving you a problem?
Yeah it was. So i wasn't sure how defensive i need to be. In any case, I'm sure admissions is like a panel rather than one man job. But I'm glad you think it's promising.

And like I already said, your advice would help for other unis as well. thx

(Original post by redferry)
Him well clearly don't want a masters much then. Liverpool is a fine city and good University...
*sigh*, do I really have to spell out the joke to you?

(Original post by Pariah)
What do think that this MA is going to do for you? Given your fairly average academic grades so far it seems unlikely that you will suddenly raise your game - why not save the time and money and progress your career as a teacher?
I'm terribly bored with my life and being a full time teacher is too stressful. If I'm willing to pay the money and time and a university accepts me, I could care less what the MA is going to do for me, except I'll have found it interesting and that's enough because I can feed myself just fine without it.
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Pariah
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(Original post by thisistheend)

I'm terribly bored with my life and being a full time teacher is too stressful. If I'm willing to pay the money and time and a university accepts me, I could care less what the MA is going to do for me, except I'll have found it interesting and that's enough because I can feed myself just fine without it.
Fair enough. There's no law against wasting your money/time.
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